Charles XIV John of Sweden

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"Carl Johan" redirects here. For the Knight of the Elephant, see Count Carl Johan Bernadotte of Wisborg.
Charles XIV & III John
Charles XIV John as Crown Prince of Sweden - François Gérard.jpg
Charles XIV John (king of Sweden and Norway.) Painting by François Gérard
King of Sweden and Norway
Reign 5 February 1818 – 8 March 1844
Coronation 11 May 1818 (Sweden)
7 September 1818 (Norway)
Predecessor Charles XIII/II
Successor Oscar I
Spouse Désirée Clary
Issue Oscar I
House House of Bernadotte
Father Henri Bernadotte
Mother Jeanne de St. Vincent
Born (1763-01-26)26 January 1763
Pau, France
Died 8 March 1844(1844-03-08) (aged 81)
Stockholm, Sweden
Burial Riddarholmskyrkan, Stockholm
Signature
Religion Lutheran
prev Roman Catholic

Charles XIV & III John, also Carl John, Swedish and Norwegian: Carl Johan (26 January 1763 – 8 March 1844) was King of Sweden (as Charles XIV John) and King of Norway (as Charles III John) from 1818 until his death. Before he became king, he was also the Sovereign Prince of Pontecorvo, in Southern Italy, between 1806 and 1810.[1]

He was born Jean Bernadotte and subsequently had acquired the full name of Jean Baptiste Jules Bernadotte[2] by the time Carl also was added upon his Swedish adoption in 1810. He did not use Bernadotte in Sweden but founded the royal dynasty there by that name.

French by birth, Bernadotte served a long career in the French Army. He was appointed as a Marshal of France by Napoleon I, though the two had a turbulent relationship. His service to France ended in 1810, when he was elected the heir-presumptive to the Swedish throne because the Swedish royal family was dying out with King Charles XIII. Baron Carl Otto Mörner (22 May 1781 – 17 August 1868), a Swedish courtier and obscure member of the Riksdag of the Estates, advocated for the succession.[3]

Early life and family[edit]

Bernadotte's birth house in Pau, France

Bernadotte was born in Pau, France, as the son of Jean Henri Bernadotte (Pau, Béarn, 14 October 1711 – Pau, 31 March 1780), prosecutor at Pau, and wife (married at Boeil-Bezing, 20 February 1754) Jeanne de Saint-Vincent (Pau, 1 April 1728 – Pau, 8 January 1809). The family name was originally de Pouey, but was changed to Bernadotte – a surname of an ancestress – at the beginning of the 17th century.[4] His brother Jean Bernadotte (Pau, 1754 – Pau, 8 August 1813) was eventually made 1st Baron Bernadotte and married Marie Anne Charlotte Saint-Pau.[citation needed] Bernadotte himself added Jules to his first names later,[4] from Julius Caesar, in the classicizing spirit of the French Revolution.[citation needed]

Military career[edit]

"Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, Prince de Ponte-Corvo, roi de Suède, Maréchal de France" (1818). Painted by Joseph Nicolas Jouy, after François-Joseph Kinson

Bernadotte joined the army as a private in the Régiment de Royal-Marine on 3 September 1780,[citation needed] and first served in the newly conquered territory of Corsica.[4] He was for a long time stationed in Collioure in the South of France and was after eight years promoted to sergeant.[citation needed] Following the outbreak of the French Revolution, his eminent military qualities brought him speedy promotion.[4] He was promoted to colonel in 1792,[citation needed] and by 1794 was a brigadier attached to the Army of Sambre-et-Meuse.[4] After Jourdan's victory at Fleurus (26 June 1794) he became a general of division. At the Battle of Theiningen (1796), Bernadotte contributed, more than anyone else, to the successful retreat of the French army over the Rhine after its defeat by the Archduke Charles of Austria. In 1797 he brought reinforcements from the Rhine to Bonaparte's army in Italy, distinguishing himself greatly at the passage of the Tagliamento, and in 1798 served as ambassador to Vienna, but had to quit his post owing to the disturbances caused by his hoisting the tricolour over the embassy.[4]

From 2 July to 14 September he was Minister of War, in which capacity he displayed great ability. He declined to help Napoleon Bonaparte stage his coup d'état of November 1799, but nevertheless accepted employment from the Consulate, and from April 1800 to 18 August 1801 commanded the army in the Vendée.[4]

Bernadotte as Crown Prince

On the introduction of the French Empire, Bernadotte became one of the eighteen Marshals of the Empire and, from June 1804 to September 1805, served as governor of the recently occupied Hanover. During the campaign of 1805, Bernadotte with an army corps from Hanover, co-operated in the great movement which resulted in the shutting off of Mack in Ulm. As a reward for his services at Austerlitz (2 December 1805) he became the 1st Sovereign Prince of Ponte Corvo (5 June 1806), but during the campaign against Prussia, in the same year, was severely reproached by Napoleon for not participating with his army corps in the battles of Jena and Auerstädt, though close at hand.[5]

In 1808, as governor of the Hanseatic towns, he was to have directed the expedition against Sweden, via the Danish islands, but the plan came to naught because of the want of transports and the defection of the Spanish contingent. In the war against Austria, Bernadotte led the Saxon contingent at the Battle of Wagram (6 July 1809), on which occasion, on his own initiative, he issued an Order of the Day attributing the victory principally to the valour of his Saxons, which order Napoleon at once disavowed.[5] It was during the middle of that battle that Marshal Bernadotte was stripped of his command after retreating contrary to Napoleon's orders. Napoleon once commented after a battle that "Bernadotte hesitates at nothing."[citation needed] On St. Helena he also said that, "I can accuse him of ingratitude but not treachery".[6]

Offer of the Swedish throne[edit]

Statue in Norrköping erected in 1846.

Bernadotte, considerably piqued, returned to Paris where the council of ministers entrusted him with the defence of the Netherlands against the British expedition in Walcheren. In 1810, he was about to enter upon his new post as governor of Rome when he was unexpectedly elected the heir-presumptive to King Charles XIII of Sweden,[5] who was childless and old.

He was elected partly because a large part of the Swedish Army, in view of future complications with Russia, were in favour of electing a soldier, and partly because Bernadotte was also very popular in Sweden, owing to the kindness he had shown to the Swedish prisoners during the recent war with Denmark.[5] The issue of an heir-presumptive to the Swedish throne had become acute since the previous crown prince Charles August had died of a stroke on 28 May 1810, just a few months after he had arrived in Sweden.[citation needed]

The matter was decided by one of the Swedish courtiers, Baron Karl Otto Mörner, who, entirely on his own initiative, offered the succession to the Swedish crown to Bernadotte. Bernadotte communicated Mörner's offer to Napoleon, who treated the whole affair as an absurdity. The Emperor did not support Bernadotte but did not oppose him either and so Bernadotte informed Mörner that he would not refuse the honour if he were elected. Although the Swedish government, amazed at Mörner's effrontery, at once placed him under arrest on his return to Sweden, the candidature of Bernadotte gradually gained favour and on 21 August 1810[5] in Örebro,[citation needed] he was elected by the Riksdag of the Estates to be the new Crown Prince,[5] and was subsequently made Generalissimus of the Swedish Armed Forces by the King.[7] Later that year he renounced the title of Prince of Ponte Corvo.[citation needed]

Crown Prince and Regent[edit]

Coronation of Karl III Johan as King of Norway

On 2 November Bernadotte made his solemn entry into Stockholm, and on 5 November he received the homage of the Riksdag of the Estates, and he was adopted by King Charles XIII under the name of "Charles John" (Karl Johan).[5] Many honours were bestowed upon him, such as an honorary membership of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on 21 November 1810.[citation needed]

The new Crown Prince was very soon the most popular and most powerful man in Sweden. The infirmity of the old King and the dissensions in the Privy Council of Sweden placed the government, and especially the control of foreign affairs, entirely in his hands. The keynote of his whole policy was the acquisition of Norway and Bernadotte proved anything but a puppet of France.[5]

In 1813 he allied Sweden with Napoleon's enemies, including Great Britain and Prussia, in the Sixth Coalition, hoping to secure Norway. After the defeats at Lützen (2 May 1813) and Bautzen (21 May 1813), it was the Swedish Crown Prince who put fresh fighting spirit into the Allies; and at the conference of Trachenberg he drew up the general plan for the campaign which began after the expiration of the Truce of Pläswitz.[5]

Charles John, as the Commander-in-Chief of the Northern Army, successfully defended the approaches to Berlin and was victorious in battle against Oudinot in August and against Ney in September at the Battles of Großbeeren and Dennewitz; but after the Battle of Leipzig he went his own way, determined at all hazards to cripple Denmark and to secure Norway,[5] defeating the Danes at Bornhöved in December.[citation needed] His efforts culminated in the favourable Treaty of Kiel, wherein the allies recognized the Swedish claim to Norway.[citation needed] Norway entered a personal union with Sweden[5] after losing the Swedish–Norwegian War of 1814.[citation needed]

King of Sweden and Norway[edit]

Equestrian in Stockholm depicting Charles XIV John.
Swedish Royalty
House of Bernadotte
Bernadotte coa.svg
Charles XIV John
Children
   Oscar I
Oscar I
Children
   Charles XV
   Gustaf, Duke of Upland
   Oscar II
   Princess Eugenie
   August, Duke of Dalarna
Charles XV
Children
   Lovisa, Queen of Denmark
   Carl Oscar, Duke of Södermanland
Oscar II
Children
   Gustaf V
   Oscar, Duke of Gotland
   Carl, Duke of Västergötland
   Eugen, Duke of Närke
Grandchildren
   Princess Margaretha
   Märtha, Crown Princess of Norway
   Astrid, Queen of Belgium
   Carl, Duke of Östergötland
Gustaf V
Children
   Gustaf VI Adolf
   Vilhelm, Duke of Södermanland
   Erik, Duke of Västmanland
Grandchildren
   Lennart, Duke of Småland
Gustaf VI Adolf
Children
   Gustaf Adolf, Duke of Västerbotten
   Sigvard, Duke of Uppland
   Ingrid, Queen of Denmark
   Bertil, Duke of Halland
   Carl Johan, Duke of Dalarna
Grandchildren
   Princess Margaretha
   Princess Birgitta
   Princess Désirée
   Princess Christina
   Carl XVI Gustaf
Carl XVI Gustaf
Children
   Crown Princess Victoria
   Carl Philip, Duke of Värmland
   Madeleine, Duchess of Hälsingland and Gästrikland
Grandchildren
   Estelle, Duchess of Östergötland
   Leonore, Duchess of Gotland

As the union King, Charles XIV John in Sweden and Charles III John in Norway, who succeeded to that title on 5 February 1818 following the death of Charles XIII & II, he was initially popular in both countries.[5] Upon his accession he converted from Roman Catholicism to the Lutheranism of the Swedish court. He never learned to speak Swedish or Norwegian; however, this was a minor obstacle as French was widely spoken by the Swedish aristocracy.[citation needed]

Charles John's reign witnessed the completion of the southern Göta Canal, begun 22 years earlier, to link Lake Vänern to the sea at Söderköping 180 miles to the east.[citation needed] Though his ultra-conservative views were unpopular, particularly from 1823 onwards, his dynasty never faced serious danger, as the Swedes and the Norwegians alike were proud of a monarch with a good European reputation.[5]

Although the Riksdag of the Estates of 1840 meditated compelling him to abdicate,[why?] Charles John survived the abdication controversy and he went on to have his silver jubilee, which was celebrated with great enthusiasm on 18 February 1843. He reigned as King of Sweden and Norway from 5 February 1818 until his death in 1844.[5]

Death[edit]

Charles John's huge granite sarcophagus.

On 26 January 1844,[5] his 81st birthday, Charles John was found unconscious in his chambers having suffered a stroke. While he regained consciousness, he never fully recovered and died on the afternoon of 8 March. His remains were interred after a state funeral in Stockholm's Riddarholm Church.[8]

Family[edit]

At Sceaux on 17 August 1798 he married Bernardine Eugénie Désirée Clary, the daughter of a Marseille silk merchant, and sister of Joseph Bonaparte's wife Julie Clary[citation needed] – Désirée had previously been engaged to Napoleon. Bernadotte and Désirée had only one son, Oscar I of Sweden.[citation needed]

Honours[edit]

King Charles John was the 909th Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece in Spain and the 28th Grand Cross of the Order of the Tower and Sword in Portugal.

Arms[edit]

Coat of arms of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte.svg
Prince of Pontecorvo
Serafimersköld Prince Karl Johan Riddarholmen.svg
Coat of arms of Crown Prince Charles John according the armorial of Knights of the order of the Seraphim.
Armoiries du Roi Karl Johan de Suède et de Norvège.svg
Coat of arms of King Charles XIV John of Sweden and Norway
Royal Monogram of King Charles XIV of Sweden.svg
A Monogram for King Charles XIV John of Sweden and Norway used on a coin

Ancestry[edit]

His paternal grandparents were Jean Bernadotte (Pau, 29 September 1683 – Pau, 3 October 1760) and wife (m. Pau, 1 May 1707) Marie du Pucheu dite de La Place (Pau, 6 February 1686 – Pau, 5 October 1773), daughter of Jacques du Pucheu dit de La Place and wife Françoise de Labasseur. His maternal grandparents were Jean de Saint-Vincent (Boëil-Bezing, c. 1690 – Boëil-Bezing, 21 May 1762) and wife (m. Assat, 30 May 1719) Marie d'Abbadie de Sireix (Sireix, 25 March 1694 – Boëil-Bezing, 16 October 1752), daughter of Doumengé Habas d'Arrens and wife Marie d'Abbadie, Lay Abbess of Sireix. Finally, he was the great-grandson of Jean Bernadotte (Pau, 7 November 1649 – Pau, 14 July 1689) and wife (m. Pau, 18 June 1674) Marie de la Barrère-Bertandot; who was in turn the son of Pierre Bernadotte and wife Margalide Barraquer and paternal grandson of Joandou du Poey, born in 1590, and wife Germaine de Bernadotte.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  • Barton, Sir Dunbar Plunkett (1921). Bernadotte and Napoleon: 1763–1810. London: John Murray. 
  • Cronholm, Neander N. (1902). "39". A History of Sweden from the Earliest Times to the Present Day. pp. 249–71. 
  • Palmer, Alan (1990). Bernadotte: Napoleon's marshal, Sweden's king.  standard scholarly biography
  • Six, Georges (2003). Dictionnaire Biographique des Generaux & Amiraux Francais de la Revolution et de l'Empire (1792-1814). Paris: Gaston Saffroy. 
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainBain, Robert Nisbet (1911). "Charles XIV.". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica 5 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 931–932. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Alm, Mikael and Britt-Inger Johansson, eds. Scripts of Kingship: Essays on Bernadotte and Dynastic Formation in an Age of Revolution (Uppsala: Swedish Science Press, 2008)
    • Review by Rasmus Glenthøj, English Historical Review (2010) 125#512 pp 205–208.
  • Barton, Dunbar B.: The amazing career of Bernadotte, 1930; condensed one volume biography based on Barton's detailed 3 vol biography 1914-1925, which contained many documents
  • Koht, Halvdan. "Bernadotte and Swedish-American Relations, 1810-1814," Journal of Modern History (1944) 16#4 pp. 265–285 in JSTOR
  • Lord Russell of Liverpool: Bernadotte: Marshal of France & King of Sweden, 1981
  • Jean-Marc Olivier. "Bernadotte Revisited, or the Complexity of a Long Reign (1810–1844)", in Nordic Historical Review, n°2, 2006.
  • Scott, Franklin D. Bernadotte and the Fall of Napoleon (1935); scholarly analysis

Historiography[edit]

  • Moncure, James A. ed. Research Guide to European Historical Biography: 1450-Present (4 vol 1992); vol 1 pp 126–34

External links[edit]

Charles XIV/III John
Born: 26 January 1763 Died: 8 March 1844
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Charles XIII/II
King of Sweden and Norway
5 February 1818 – 8 March 1844
Succeeded by
Oscar I
New title Prince of Pontecorvo
5 June 1806 – 21 August 1810
Vacant
Title next held by
Lucien Murat
Political offices
Preceded by
Louis de Mureau
Minister of War of France
2 July 1799 – 14 September 1799
Succeeded by
Edmond Dubois-Crancé